NABOKV-L post 0023026, Fri, 6 Jul 2012 15:42:22 -0600

Re: Pale Fire's "Harfar Baron of Shalksbore"
Mike Marcus asked for the evidence that it was plausible that Nabokov might
have created a "fictitious lyrical I" in his poem "Shakespeare". Other
poets have done this and have commented that their poems shouldn't be taken
as autobiographical facts or sincere statements of belief. As for Nabokov,
Stephen Blackwell alluded to his statement in *Strong Opinions* that "People
tend to underestimate the power of my imagination and my capacity of
evolving serial selves in my writings." Nabokov in his teens wrote poems
about "the loss of a beloved mistress--Delia, Tamara, or Lenore--whom I had
never lost, never loved, never met, but was all set to meet, love, lose."
In the years after the Revolution he wrote many poems that mentioned God,
but later called it a period of "a kind of private curatorship, aimed at
preserving nostalgic retrospections and developing Byzantine imagery (this
has been mistaken by some readers for an interest in 'religion' which,
beyond literary stylization, never meant anything to me)". So
"Shakespeare" is not *necessarily* a sincere statement of
anti-Stratfordianism any more than "in a drop of honey, in a
translucent-green dewdrop/ I recognize God and the world and myself" is a
sincere statement of religious faith.

(The quotation can be seen at <>.)

Mike Marcus also asked "why he should have been toying with this
particular idea
at all." Galya Diment had some thoughts on this list in 1998: <>.
(She also mentions Nabokov's comments on the authorship of *The Song of
Igor's Campaign,* now available at <>. Incidentally, searching
the NABOKV-L archives for "Stratfordian" will turn up quite a bit of
dicussion.) If I can raise another possibility, the poem "Fame" is about a
poet, with many resemblances to the author, who decides he doesn't care
about his loss of fame. This is similar to an Oxfordian figure, who
deliberately rejects what would be unsurpassed fame as a poet and
playwright. Maybe this theme was on Nabokov's mind at times.

Jerry Friedman

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